GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Dallas County has reported its first human case of West Nile joining at least two other North Texas Counties. Now, with cases so close to home the Grayson County Health Department is urging people to protect themselves.
Grayson County Health Department officials say so far this year there have been seven confirmed cases of the West Nile Virus in Denton, Dallas and Parker counties, and while there have been no confirmed cases in Grayson County officials say it is just a matter of time.
Billy Sartor says he is shocked West Nile Virus cases are so close to home.
"I was like, isn't this over yet," asked Sartor.
In fact, experts say it is only the beginning. Denton County has reported one human case and mosquitoes carrying West Nile have been confirmed in Collin County. Health officials say that means they are probably in Grayson County too. Sartor says now that he has heard the news he will be more careful.
"Personal precautions, you know using bug spray or you know what type of clothes to wear," Sartor said.
Amanda Ortez with the Grayson County Health Department says they are relying on people, like Sartor, to protect themselves from getting bitten.
"Obtain a repellant that contains some DEET, and then also to make sure that you dress properly and that's unfortunately long sleeves, long pants," Ortez said.
Ortez says people also should drain standing water from things like flower pots, buckets and kiddie pools, as well as try to avoid being outside from dusk to dawn.
Art Harmon, owner of of Results Environmental Pest Management, says you could get bitten by an infected mosquito and never even know it.
"Most people that are bitten by an infected mosquito don't, they never contract the disease or they never show really any real symptoms of it so it's kind of a perfect storm situation that has to occur," Harmon said.
Health officials say people usually develop symptoms between three to 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito, and about 80 percent of those infected with West Nile will not show any symptoms at all.
"Unfortunately it's the individuals that are 50 years of age and older that are likely to experience some of the most severe symptoms," Ortez said.
Right now there is not a vaccine to protect humans against the potentially fatal virus.
"We're relying on the citizens to take a proactive stance against west nile virus and properly protect themselves and their family members," Ortez said.
Health experts say mosquitoes get the virus when they feed on infected birds. Then they spread it to humans and other animals when they bite.
For more tips on how you can protect yourself visit the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/ and the Grayson County Health Departments website at http://www.co.grayson.tx.us/main.htm.